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You may wish to consult Cold War (disambiguation) for other, similarly-named pages.

Cold War was the eighth episode of series 7 of Doctor Who.

It saw the first televised appearance of an Ice Warrior since The Monster of Peladon thirty-nine years previously, the first time one was shown outside of his armour, and their first appearance in BBC Wales' production of the show. Also of note was the first physical appearance of David Warner in a televised adventure of the series, who had previously only taken roles in the Whoniverse which featured his voice.

This episode once again implies that wars are fluxing points in the timeline; Victory of the Daleks [+]Mark Gatiss, Doctor Who series 5 (BBC One, 2010)., the Doctor kept World War II from major change by confiscating leftover Dalek technology. In this story, the Doctor explains that history is full of times when all-out war can be triggered by a "single spark".

As something of a surprise, this episode is the first time that one of the Doctor's companions has actually listened to his order to remain where they are in a dangerous situation. By this point, the Doctor had come to accept no-one listens to him until right before it's too late; Clara actually listening to him was a shock which immediately set her apart from other companions.


In 1983, the tensest point of the Cold War, a Soviet submarine discovers a strange creature frozen in the ice of the Arctic. When one of the Firebird's crew breaks it free, it starts attacking. As the crew strikes back, the Eleventh Doctor warns them that the attack could be considered a declaration of war on the entire Ice Warrior race...


It is the North Pole, in the year 1983. Aboard a Soviet submarine, a warning repeats that the "signal is genuine." Captain Zhukov and Lieutenant Stepashin use their keys to prime an ICBM launch. They prepare to fire, but are interrupted by the entrance of Professor Grisenko, singing Ultravox's "Vienna". The Captain reports the drill has been abandoned. Stepashin says they must run it again, to which the Captain says, "Tomorrow." The Captain then asks the Professor about the "specimen", wondering if it's a mammoth. In the hold, the crewman in charge of the specimen muses that they are supposed to wait until the crew arrives back in Moscow to thaw the specimen out. However, he uses a blowtorch to thaw the block of ice, until he is grabbed by a claw that emerges from the ice.

Havoc erupts on the submarine. The hull has been breached and crew members are being attacked by a green armoured figure. The TARDIS materialises in the midst of the chaos. As the Captain orders the sub to be brought to the surface, the Eleventh Doctor and Clara are thrown across the bridge. Clara concludes that they are not in Las Vegas, as they expected to be. The Captain asks who they are while being informed by a crew member that the main turbines aren't responding. The Doctor tells them their only chance to survive is to use the lateral thrusters in order to land on a ridge, which will prevent them from dropping further. The captain then orders the crew to do this.

Crew members search the Doctor and Clara, confiscating a number of items from his pockets, including a doll, a ball of yarn and his sonic screwdriver. Unexpectedly, the TARDIS suddenly dematerialises. Clara falls into a puddle after a jolt rocks the sub, temporarily losing consciousness. When she wakes up, the Doctor and the Captain are arguing; the Doctor defends his and Clara's arrival as a coincidence. Seeing that he must calm Zhukov, the Doctor decides "okay, no psychic paper, no pretending to be an Earth ambassador" and explains the two of them are time travellers, using the fact the TARDIS appeared from nowhere as proof. They are interrupted by a raspy noise coming from behind the Doctor. He initially thinks it's gas, but turns around to find the green armoured figure. The professor explains it came out of as a block of ice he believed held a mammoth. A shocked Doctor tells him it's an Ice Warrior.

Upon hearing the Doctor mention that the creature is from Mars, Zhukov balks at the idea of it being a Martian, but the Doctor tells him Ice Warriors are soldiers that demand respect. He goes on to explain the Ice Warrior is lashing out in confusion after being frozen for, as the professor explains, 5,000 years. The Doctor asks the Warrior for his name, to which it replies Grand Marshall Skaldak; the Doctor is shocked to hear the name of this Ice Warrior. Stepashin sneaks up behind Skaldak and knocks him out with a cattle prod. The Doctor berates Stepashin, telling them Skaldak is the greatest warrior ever produced by the Ice Warriors. He warns the crew that their only option now is to "lock him up." Now in chains, Skaldak asks Onegin if he has been asleep for 5,000 years. The crewman confirms that this is what the Professor said. Skaldak signals for his brothers to save him.

In Zhukov's quarters, the Doctor explains that the Ice Warriors are native Martian reptiles that built suits to survive when Mars became too cold for them. A design flaw is that a sudden increase of heat will knock them out, hence why the cattle prod worked; the Doctor always wondered why this has never been addressed. Skaldak was one of the Ice Warriors' finest, being honoured so much that his enemies would carve his name into their own flesh before death. Clara is shocked to hear this.

However, Stepashin is not willing to believe in "little green men", instead stubbornly believes that the Doctor and Clara are western spies and that Skaldak is a Western weapon, a survival suit; he believes Moscow must be told so that they can retaliate. Zhukov only finds him annoying, ordering Stepashin to resume repair work on the submarine. The Doctor tells the Captain that if they had done nothing, Skaldak would have ignored them. However, one of their men attacked him: "Harm one and you harm us all" is the Martian code; "Skaldak will rain down Hell just for laying a glove on him."

The Doctor points to the headphones on the Professor's Walkman, where he can hear the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf" being modulated by Skaldak's distress call. He says that he is the only one who can talk to Skaldak, but the Captain is unwilling to risk his only source of knowledge. It can't be the Captain, as Skaldak will be able to tell he's an enemy soldier. The Captain points out the Doctor seems like one as well. As it can't be the Captain, any of his men, or the Doctor, Clara declares that she's the only choice. The Doctor protests, but prepares Clara for the task.

Clara approaches the restrained Skaldak, with the Doctor coaching her through an audio link. She salutes him and recites a ritual greeting, followed by more of the Doctor's words before her light goes out. The Grand Marshall speaks to the Doctor directly and tells a story of singing the songs of the Red Snow with his daughter. The Doctor attempts to calm Skaldak by explaining that the Ice Warriors are still alive, but "scattered all across the universe". However, Skaldak refuses to believe him, stating that no help will come for him. Clara has been inching forward. She realises something is wrong, discovering that the armour they have chained is now empty. Skaldak has left it.

Skaldak says that it is time he studied his enemies and swears to retaliate. The Doctor tells Clara to get out of there and begins to rush to her, but the Captain pulls a handgun on him, thinking the Doctor was cooperating with Skaldak and has betrayed them. The Doctor tells him he's never seen one do this before; he then adds that he's never seen one out of his shell before. The Captain accepts this and lets him go. The Professor says it should be more vulnerable without armour, but the Doctor says it will be more dangerous - to an Ice Warrior, leaving its armour is one of the most dishonourable things it can do. He runs for Clara, who hears hissing and sees Skaldak rush by as she tries to open the hatch. The others reach her and the Doctor pulls her through. She asks him how she did. The Doctor says it wasn't a test, but she did great.

Stepashin Skaldak

Stepashin is ambushed by Skaldak.

Grisenko reports that the signal has stopped. The Doctor says Skaldak has given up hope of rescue and now has nothing left to lose. Due to the Ice Warriors living beyond the solar system, the signal is taking longer to reach them; however, Skaldak does not know this, instead believing he is the last of his kind. The Captain is sceptical about what the Martian could do until the Doctor points out that they're sitting on a large number of nuclear weapons. He says it couldn't be any worse, just before the submarine slips a little further down the incline and more water pours in. Skaldak stalks Stepashin, who is making repairs. Stepashin pulls his gun, but he is facing the wrong direction. He feels spindly, three-fingered hands grab him by the shoulder and top of the head. Skaldak learns about the Cold War and the theory of mutually assured destruction from Stepashin, who wants to gain an ally to fight Western aggression.

The Captain addresses the crew. The reactor is drowned, they only have battery power, and they're running out of air. They still have a mission, however. They need to stop the Grand Marshall before he gains control of any of the missiles. They are all that stands between him and the destruction of the world. Clara learns from the Doctor that time can be changed, and even if the world previously didn't end in 1983, it can now. The Captain tells him that they have twelve men, but they can't find Stepashin. They decide to split up and look for him, with a team to guard the bridge; when the Captain questions the idea, the Doctor retorts "it's either that or wait here for him to kill us all." Grisenko turns up with the sonic screwdriver and the doll and gives them back to the Doctor, who is quite happy to have them both.

They begin the search. As the Doctor scans, Clara asks Grisenko why they have a cattle prod on board, and is told that it's for polar bears. The Professor tells her to have some courage and says he sings a song to stay brave. He asks if she knows "Hungry Like the Wolf". She refuses to sing, comparing it to a musical number in Pinocchio. There are alarms and some echoes as the Doctor tinkers. He says it's the pressure, and Grisenko begins to sing, trying to persuade Clara to join him.

Onegin asks Belevich if he thinks it's truly a Martian. Onegin thinks they'll be heroes for discovering that there is other life out there in the universe, not just humanity. As Belevich replies, Skaldak silently grabs Onegin. Screams echo, and the Doctor, Clara, and Grisenko arrive to find the two torn apart. The Professor calls Skaldak a savage, but the Doctor explains that he is studying the humans for physical weaknesses. They continue the search, but Clara is slow to follow. Scanning for Skaldak's location, the Doctor gets a fix and tells Clara to stay with the professor. Clara agrees to do so. The Doctor is momentarily confused by her willingness to follow his instruction (unlike most of his companions), then continues onward. Clara confesses to Grisenko that she was bothered by the bodies.

The Captain realises that Skaldak is in the walls, thus avoiding attention. The Doctor finds Stepashin's body, feeling sorrow for him when he notices a photo of a woman in Stepashin's wallet. He then spots Skaldak moving above him. He follows.

The Professor tries to distract Clara from worrying about the noises she is hearing. He keeps questioning her, but she continues staring around, barely answering. He very seriously demands to know about the future — specifically, if Ultravox will split up. She breaks out into laughter, then gasps as Skaldak grabs her head. Grisenko produces a gun and shoots several times. Skaldak lets her go and grabs him. Clara pleads with Skaldak to let Grisenko go as the Doctor runs up. The Grand Marshall declares that they attacked him. By Martian law, this means that the people of this world are forfeit; he now has the information he requires to begin the destruction. He only needs one missile to trigger the exchange. With his people dead and dust, there is nothing left for him but revenge.

Skaldak signals his armour, and the helmet flips up. The Doctor tells him that there is one thing left: mercy. The Captain enters with a crewman, threatening violence in defence of the Earth. The Doctor says they're negotiating, not fighting. The Captain replies that they will negotiate from a position of strength, and aims his rifle. Skaldak comments, "Excellent tactical thinking," but goes on to explain his position isn't as strong as he thinks. The armour has been summoned by Martian sonic technology. He releases the Professor and enters his armour. They open fire, but the Doctor stops them. Skaldak vows to create a new red planet from the blood of humanity. The Doctor follows him.

Skaldak extrudes probes from the gloves of his armour into the targeting computers. Text flows, lights change and locks shift. The missile tubes open. The others arrive and the Captain says that the warheads are being armed. The Doctor asks him to wait, asking where the honour is in killing billions of innocent people. He continues to appeal to Skaldak's better nature, but seemingly to no effect. As Skaldak reaches for the button, he declares himself as a Time Lord, with his own sonic technology. If he needs to, he will blow up the sub and everyone on it to avoid starting the nuclear exchange. The Martian mutters, "mutually assured destruction," and turns back to the button, as the Doctor lifts the sonic screwdriver.


Skaldak with his helmet removed.

The Doctor taunts him to look into his eyes, and Skaldak removes his helmet, asking which of them will blink first. Clara asks Skaldak why he showed compassion earlier, further asking about his daughter and when they had sung the songs of the Red Snow.

The submarine suddenly begins to vibrate. Skaldak declares that his people live and have come for him. The Captain says that they are rising. A spaceship raises the submarine to the surface in a beam of cloudy white light. The Doctor pleads with Skaldak to just go in peace. Another beam hits Skaldak and he disappears.

Clara says they did it, but the Doctor checks the console, which is still armed. One pulse from the Martian ship could launch the missiles. He holds up the sonic screwdriver, wincing and repeating that he'll destroy them if he must. Frightened, Clara begins to quietly sing "Hungry Like the Wolf". The missiles disarm. Clara hugs the Doctor, before straightening herself. "Saved the world, then," she says. "That's what we do..."

The Doctor, the Captain, the Professor, and Clara go up top and get a look at the Martian ship. Clara asks the Doctor what happened to the TARDIS. The Doctor sheepishly confesses that, while tinkering, he reset the HADS, which he hasn't used in a very long time. He says it's bound to turn up, as the sonic starts buzzing. The TARDIS has gone to the pole... the South Pole. Embarrassed, he asks the Captain for a lift and they all laugh. The Doctor salutes the Ice Warrior ship with an arm across his chest as it zooms off.



General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.

Uncredited crew[]

Millennium FX[1]
  • Alien Sculptors - Stephen McClure, Andrea Eusebi
  • Eye Creation and Painting - Andrea Leanza
  • Animatronics/Mechanics - Adrian Parish, Chris Trice
  • Rod Puppet Foam Technicians - Ian Morse, James Greenwood
  • Seaming - Vesna Giordano




  • The HADS is activated for the first time in years.
  • The translation circuit allows Soviets, the Doctor, Clara and Skaldak to talk to each other.


  • The submarine is in the ocean underneath the North Pole.
  • The Doctor and Clara were originally planning on going to Las Vegas.
  • The TARDIS rematerialised at the South Pole after the HADS was activated.



  • Clara suggests that singing to boost one's spirits would work if this were Pinocchio.


  • The Doctor has a doll that has long blonde hair.


Story notes[]


The Character Options Cold War playset.

  • This is the first televised story to feature the Ice Warriors since The Monster of Peladon in 1974, and the first not to be written by their creator, Brian Hayles.
  • This is the first time an Ice Warrior has been seen "out of uniform" on television, but it's not the first time fans have been able to peek behind the armour. Skaldak's true face is remarkably similar, allowing for a difference in gender, to Lee Sullivan's depiction of the female Ice Warrior Luass in the Eighth Doctor comic story Ascendance. However, the more tentacled hands of Skaldak are less compatible with Luass' human-like hands.
  • Several aspects of Ice Warrior culture mentioned in this episode, the existence of powerful female Ice Warriors, Skaldak's rank as the leader of a caste and the general implication that Ice Warriors have a feudal sense of honour, for example, originate not with Ice Warrior creator Brian Hayles but instead with Gary Russell's reinvention in PROSE: Legacy, COMIC: Ascendance and COMIC: Descendance.
  • 1983 was indeed a point in which the Cold War could have very easily run hot, due to the Able Archer '83 exercises that terrified the already paranoid Soviets. There were even several close calls throughout the year, including one famous incident where only the cool head of a Soviet radar operator deciding that the missile that appeared on his screen was not a launch but most likely an equipment malfunction prevented a full-scale nuclear launch.
  • The submarine itself is identifiable as a Project 667BD Murena-M class; better known by its NATO reporting name of "Delta II".
  • The submarine's name, The Firebird, was possibly named after the 1910 ballet of the same name by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.
  • Mark Gatiss would later write another Ice Warrior story, TV: Empress of Mars [+]Mark Gatiss, Doctor Who series 10 (BBC One, 2017)., introducing a female Ice Warrior in-person (the titular character Iraxxa).
  • This is the only episode of part 2 of series 7 where there is no mention of Clara being the Impossible Girl, making this the only one not to have a connection to the overall story arc.
  • Clara is the only female character in this story. The last time this occurred was the Fourth Doctor serial The Power of Kroll where the Doctor's companion Romana was the only female character.
  • Liam Cunningham was the first and only choice for Captain Zhukov.
  • The interior of the TARDIS isn't seen in this episode.
  • Both Liam Cunningham and Tobias Menzies played important characters in HBO's Game of Thrones: Ser Davos Seaworth and Lord Edmure Tully, respectively, while Mark Gatiss played Tycho Nestoris. Matt Smith would later play Daemon Targaryen in the prequel series House of the Dragon.
  • Both Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies would go on to play Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in The Crown. Josh O'Connor also appears in the series as Prince Charles.
  • This is the first televised Ice Warrior story to not feature Sonny Caldinez playing one of the titular Martians.
  • Liam Cunningham and David Warner had previously been candidates for the Eighth Doctor.
  • Steven Moffat had originally been hesitant to bring back the Ice Warriors, worrying that they were seen as "the default condition for what people thought of as rubbish Doctor Who monsters — things that moved very, very slowly and spoke in a way that meant you couldn't hear a word they said." Mark Gatiss, however, was a fan of the Ice Warriors' stories and had been campaigning to bring them back.
  • In a phone conversation with Steven Moffat that was originally supposed to be about Sherlock, Mark Gatiss pitched new and "very clever ideas" of what to do with the Ice Warriors, and Moffat agreed. What sold Moffat were the submarine setting and seeing what the Ice Warriors looked like underneath their suits.
  • Mark Gatiss felt that the Ice Warriors had a lot of gaps in their timeline and had not been featured in a while, which allowed a lot of room to explore them.
  • In the original script, Skaldak was a more complex creation: he was a time traveller from the thirty-first century who planned to provoke a nuclear war which would wipe out humanity, thereby preventing mankind from dominating Mars in his era. After mind-controlling the Doctor's new companion (at this point, a Victorian-era governess named Beryl Montague) to further his scheme, Skaldak was ultimately killed by one of the Russians. The surviving crew escaped to a British sub, the HMS Redoubt, while the sinking Soviet vessel was destroyed by the water pressure.
  • At one point, Captain Zhukov and his lieutenant were rescued by a second Soviet submarine.
  • Until a late stage, Grisenko was to play a villainous role, striving to preserve the Ice Warrior as a weapon for the Kremlin.
  • For a time, Skaldak sacrificed himself to destroy the submarine and its nuclear payload.
  • Mark Gatiss chose the time period because he was "kind of obsessed" with the Cold War, and felt that there were several times in the 1980s where the danger was close.
  • Several of the character names were devised in reference to Russian history and culture - Lieutenant Stepashin nodded to Sergei Stepashin, who was Prime Minister of Russia in 1999 under Boris Yeltsin. Early drafts instead applied the surname to the political officer, who eventually became Belevich; at this point, the lieutenant was called Tsarsko. The navigator was originally Serovian before becoming Onegin, an allusion to Alexander Pushkin's verse novel Eugene Onegin. The captain took his last name from General Georgy Zhukov of the Red Army, who had been instrumental in the liberation of Eastern Europe from the Axis powers during the Second World War.
  • The submarine was Mark Gatiss' idea; he felt that the series called out to be set on a submarine.
  • Caroline Skinner described the story as "Letting a huge Ice Warrior loose at the heart of a classic Hunt For Red October style submarine movie."
  • The episode comprised Block Five of season seven.
  • For the submarine setting, the cast would be sprayed in between every take.
  • The scenes in which the characters are drenched in water were achieved by constantly pouring "gallons and gallons of water" on the cast. Jenna-Louise Coleman found the experience fun, while Matt Smith said that it made acting easier. Coleman said, "The whole make-up process was reversed as they would damp us down in the morning and rub my mascara off!"
  • The last stage of production for the episode involved the underwater shots of the Firebird exterior. It had been decided that the submarine would be realised as a model, rather than via computer animation, in order to provide a better sense of weight and presence. Mike Tucker and his company, the Model Unit, filmed these sequences at Halliford Film Studios in Shepperton. The model was suspended upside-down with "shredded feathers" blown at it to give the effect of being under the sea.
  • Unlike some other returning monsters, the Ice Warriors were not heavily redesigned. Mark Gatiss insisted upon keeping the fundamentals of the original and Steven Moffat explained that the original design was not well known enough to put a new spin on it, and so Skaldak's shell is just a "super-version of the original".
  • The new Ice Warrior costume was constructed by Neill Gorton and his team at Millennium FX. While respecting Mark Gatiss' desire that it should hew as closely as possible to the original Ice Warrior design, Gorton effected some changes to make the armour more credible: the hands had digits rather than clamps, the proportions were better balanced, and the tufts of fur were removed. Indeed, in some ways, the overall conception of the new Ice Warrior better adhered to Brian Hayles' original vision of the Martians as partly cybernetic creatures.
  • To accommodate the massive Ice Warrior costume, as well as to provide more space for the cast and crew, scenes aboard the Firebird would largely have to be realised in the studio, since a real submarine would be far too cramped.
  • The Ice Warrior costume was made of flexible urethane rubber instead of the fibreglass like the original, as it would damage less easily and be more comfortable to wear. The costume was made specially to fit Spencer Wilding. Though only some of Skaldak's real appearance was shown on-screen, Neill Gorton stated that they created a full animatronic body.
  • David Warner approached Mark Gatiss about a possible role in the series.
  • To the greatest extent possible, the team was determined to use practical effects; consequently, many of the sequences involving the unarmoured Skaldak were achieved using a puppet.
  • Mark Gatiss pitched two different episode ideas - one featuring the return of the Ice Warriors and one set aboard a submarine. Steven Moffat suggested that he combine both ideas.
  • Mark Gatiss described the episode as a "love-letter" to the base-under-siege stories of Patrick Troughton.


Cold War was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 13 April 2013. Overnight ratings showed that 5.73 million viewers watched the episode live, a 28.8% audience share. When time-shifted viewers were taken into account, the figure rose to 7.37 million viewers, the fifth most-watched programme of the week on BBC One.[4] In addition, Cold War received 1.65 million requests on the online BBC iPlayer during April, the fourth most-watched programme on the service for the month. The episode also received an Appreciation Index of 84.

Filming locations[]

to be added

Production errors[]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • Approximately 6 minutes into the episode, when water is flooding the control area and the TARDIS is about to dematerialise, you can see behind the Doctor that the left TARDIS door is open, but in the next shot with it, it's closed.
  • When Skaldak grips Professor Grisenko's head at first, his claws cover the professor's face, the above view shows his claws on the professor's forehead, and when the shot changes back, Skaldak's claws are around his whole face again.
  • On the altimeter, the word "metres" is written in Russian as "метерс", while the correct spelling is "метры". "метерc" is a transliteration from the Latin to the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, rather than actually translating the word into Russian, which would literally "decode" as "metry", if treated as a cypher.


Home video releases[]

Series 7b UK DVD Cover

Series 7, Part 2 DVD cover.

DVD & Blu-ray releases[]

  • Cold War was released on DVD and Blu-ray as part of Doctor Who Series 7 Part Two in region 1/A on 28 May 2013, region 2/B on 27 May 2013, and region 4/B on 22 May 2013.
  • Also, this episode was released as part of the Complete Seventh Series boxset on DVD and Blu-ray in region 1/A on 24 September 2013, in region 2/B on 28 October 2013 and in region 4/B on 30 October 2013.

Digital releases[]

  • In the United Kingdom, this story is available on BBC iPlayer.

External links[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Leanza, Andrea (20 April 2013). ICE WARRIOR - BBC's "Doctor Who" Series 7, 2013. Facebook. Retrieved on 6 November 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dibble, Brooke. Doctor Who - Series 7 - Part 2 - Episode 9 - The Cold War. Behance. Retrieved on 21 December 2016.
  3. Bluett, Charlie (CB-FX). Ice Warrior. DeviantArt. Retrieved on 21 December 2016.
  4. Doctor Who Ratings - UK final